Thirteen-year-old Luqman looks outside his window, their house surrounded by up to 10 feet of contaminated water at all sides. Luqman is the only boy in a house full of women in a far corner of a deserted village deep in flood water. The only way to access the house is in a boat that costs PKR 50 for one person, one way, from the main road. He must take care of his mother, his younger siblings, his aunts and grandmother who have been asked to stay in their flood-hit house to safeguard the honour of their Baloch family. The older men of the house have evacuated to safer grounds and in make-shift shelters on the canal banks and roadside in search of relief and in-kind assistance.
Luqman was a regular student at the Public Boys Schools in their neighbourhood in village Sayandad Alyari of Jhudo district, Sindh. He was studying in Grade 6 and was very proud of his academic accomplishments so far. Excitedly, he took out his last report card and showed it to us with gleaming eyes. Since monsoon rains hit Jhudo district in early June, the public school in their village has been shut down for two months now.
Missing his school days, his friends and even the homework he got, Luqman is growing more and more tired and frustrated in his house. He has no one to play with. All of his friends and relatives from the village have evacuated to the roadside while he is stuck in the water-guarded house. His mother and grandmother do not allow him to wander off outside the premises due to a growing number of snakes in the water around and a high probability of skin infections caused mainly from water contamination. Many children and people from their village are falling sick and catching skin infections.
Every day, Luqman hopes that somehow miraculously the water level around their house and in their village would go down and things would get back to normal. He wished to have a hot, scrumptious meal – with fresh roti and fully cooked, delicious curry or vegetables. He was only eating half-cooked meals which did not taste that great these days. The water that they use in cooking is dirty and they do not have enough fuel or fire wood to prepare meals properly. This is the reality that Luqman and many other flood-affected children are surviving on a day to day basis.
A Women Farmers Festival was organized by Community World Service Asia at Darbar Hall in Jhuddo under the Promoting Sustainable Agriculture project, supported by PWS&D and CFGB, in Badin, Pakistan. More than three hundred women farmers attended the festival that took place on July 5th this year. Eight guest speakers (all women), representing various local and international organizations, and bringing with them a wide array of expertise and skill, shared their experiences, learnings and advice with the women farmers attending the event.
The Festival aimed at:
Providing an experience sharing and peer learning platform to local women farmers on Nutrition and Kitchen Gardening interventions
Developing collaborative relations and linkages among communities, CSOs and NGOs, government departments and community based organizations working in the area
Building awareness on climate change impacts and global food security and nutrition challenge among local communities
Shama, Agriculture Extension Officer, Community World Service Asia, introduced the organization and shared the plan and outcomes of the Promoting Sustainable Agriculture project to ensure food security in Badin.
A little bit of Fun
An interactive theater play was performed by the Parbhat theater group at the festival. The theme of the performance was food security, nutrition, kitchen gardening and tree plantation. The performers not only highlighted the importance of a balanced diet, the need for special mother and child health care and ways of sustaining kitchen garden at times of water shortages, but also strongly emphasized on the perils of climate change and the role of progressive agricultural practices in mitigating its impacts.
Local primary schools’ students entertained the audience with original poetry and humour story recitations, singing folk songs, and traditional dance performances. School-going children of Prem Nagar village performed a tableau focusing on the importance of food security, nutrition, tree plantation, environment, education and home gardening. To give a breather to the audience from the main theme in focus, students of the Ram Public School charaded an exclusive play highlighting the Sindhi culture and its social bindings prevalent in the province.
Attendees of the festival participated in various entertainment activities such as musical chairs, eating competitions and more. The winners were also awarded gifts.
Models of Low Cost Drip and Pitcher Irrigation for sustainable kitchen gardening were displayed by the CWSA team. At the same stall, IEC material on nutrition, kitchen gardening, nutritional value of Moringa and other project interventions were also displayed.
Local women artisans also displayed their vibrant handicrafts for sale at the festival.
Other non-profit organizations working in the region were also given an opportunity to set up stalls, displaying local handicrafts and pictorial presentations reflecting their own project activities, at the festival.
Distinguish guest speakers were presented with Traditional Chunri (Local scarf). All the children who performed at the various activities at the festival were awarded with appreciatory gifts. The festival was seen as a bridge that addressed the existing gaps between community members, local farmers and government officials and a big leap towards enhancing agricultural development in Sindh.
A group of 37 students of the Rural Sociology Department, Sindh Univeristy, accompanied by senior professors and chairman of the Rural Sociology Department (RSD), visited Community World Service Asia’s Jhuddo Office this April. The purpose of the study tour was to orient students on the working methodologies and policies of humanitarian organizations and NGOs’ and the role and structure of Community Based Organizations (CBO). Something different from the usual theoretical classroom learnings at the RSD, this exposure tour was designed to familiarize students with the different cultures and living patterns of rural communities and provide them with a practical learning experience.
Ashar Nasir, Project Manager at Community World Service Asia, along with other staff, welcomed the group of students and faculty members at the local office. An introductory session, on the organization and its various projects and thematic areas, kick-started the exposure visit for the eager guests.
The group first visited Fazal Wadho village; one of the targeted villages of Community World Service Asia’s Promoting Sustainable Agriculture project in Badin. Participants were welcomed by members of the Community Based Organization (CBO). Mohammad Hassan, community representative of Fazal Wadho village, gave a detailed presentation on the village profile and its’ previous and existing initiatives with different organizations. He also briefed the participants on the history of the CBO’s formation, its objectives and their role in local development. This was followed by a question and answer sessions in which a student asked about the importance of CBOs at a community level. To his response, it was shared that CBOs bridge communication and networking gaps between feudal lords and higher officials and the local community people. The CBOs also amplify the voices of the village people on local issues and together with concerned departments develop resolutions to those issues.
Community World Service Asia’s role, through their various Food Security and Livelihoods projects in the area, in forming the CBOs and VOs and equipping them with necessary resources and knowledge, was highlighted. The students and their faculty were told about the role the women of the community are playing in being trained on Nutrition and Kitchen Gardening to develop balanced nutritious diets for their families and themselves through the Sustainable Farming project in Badin. Many other field experiences were shared with the group, including the exposure visit to Sindh Agricultural University where the women project participants actively observed the workings of different departments. They also shared their experience of participating in the Farmers Festival which displayed their home grown vegetables on sale stalls and connected them with local retailers.
Dr. Ghulam Mujtaba Khushk, chairman of RSD, appreciated the efforts of the CBO in local development. He appreciated the informative and effective opportunity given to the students and the faculty members; increasing their knowledge and learning in relation to the different practicalities of rural life and how people of various local communities are being involved to build a sustainable livelihood together. The students and faculty members learnt about project implementation, project planning and social mobilization. Concluding the visit, Dr. Ghulam Mujtaba presented an appreciation letter and a shield to Community World Service Asia Team for their commitment and contribution to the communities.